Mother holding her daughter, Kenya. Typhoid is endemic to Kenya

Why Typhoid? Why Now?

Typhoid is a serious and sometimes fatal enteric fever spread through contaminated food and water. The disease causes fever, fatigue, headache, abdominal pain, and diarrhea or constipation. While it used to devastate major cities in the United States and Europe, it was largely stamped out in industrialized countries in the 1940s with the advent of antibiotics and improved sanitation. However, for millions of people living in low- and middle-income countries, typhoid and related illnesses are still real and present risks. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, typhoid resulted in more than 9 million cases and more than 110,000 deaths globally in 2019, mostly among children and adolescents in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Low-resource communities are often the most susceptible.

While the battle against typhoid is an ancient one, we currently face a confluence of new factors that elevate the urgency for better prevention and control: worsening drug resistance, urbanization, and climate change. These factors have the potential to increase the global burden by limiting antibiotic treatment options and making it easier for disease-causing bacteria to spread through overcrowded populations in cities and inadequate and/or flooded water and sanitation systems.

Fortunately, we already have the knowledge and tools to prevent and treat this ancient disease. We know that it will take an integrated strategy to counter. Improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene are imperative, and so are improved diagnostics and treatment options to ensure people are diagnosed promptly and treated appropriately. Expanding coverage of typhoid conjugate vaccines (TCVs) will have a crucial role in stopping transmission cycles and ensuring that children are protected.

Through this integrated approach, the #TakeOnTyphoid movement is working across diverse sectors to improve access to solutions that will overcome the threats of increasing drug resistance, urbanization, and effects from climate change. This will ensure that more people are protected against the scourge of typhoid. Join the movement today!

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Photo: PATH/Georgina Goodwin